It depends more on what you hope to gain, than which you go with or what they cost. The OEM "splash guards" are more about looks, since they have compound curves to match the fender panels, but do very little in the way of guarding against splashes on the sides of your Element. After-market mud flaps will likely fit fine, because there's plenty of fender clearance to mount them, and the fender liner screws are exposed for you to use. Even though they tend to be larger, generic mud flaps still do very little to actually protect the sides of your car. Sidesteps, though certainly more expensive than any mud flaps, do the best job of actually protecting the sides of your Element from road spray. Then again, some (me especially) detest the looks of those even worse than any accumulated dirt. :roll:
I bought 2pr. at Pep Boys cost $30. total they are not OEM and have sort of a flex fit so they will curve to any car, I have had no problems with them. I just couldnt see spending $65. bux on the OEM ones...
I bought the generic mudflaps at AutoZone and I'm happy with the results, and the price! I bought mine to protect my trailer and the flaps have definitely helped keep road stuff off the front of the trailer.
The Honda spashguards aren't really "flaps" tho. They are more spoon shaped so they resemble squared scoops. Due to this scoop shape they don't really flex and bend as just a rubber or plastic flap would. They can still flex if needed but they are a formed shape that fits around the edge of the panels.